With Horseracing’s drug control and anti-doping and integrity (HISA) program set to launch Monday—pending Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approval—the inevitable focus will be on spider web after the race and out of the race competitive test set to cover most of the country.
But with that comes another question: What should buyers now keep in mind when buying horses at the point of sale or privately?
The question has gained more interest since a recent interview with Southern California riders by representatives from the Welfare and Integrity Unit (HIWU), the HISA branch responsible for jockeying. responsible for implementing and administering its anti-doping and drug control (ADMC) program.
At that presentation, Mary Scollay, HIWU’s chief scientific officer, explained that under the new dosing regimen, bisphosophonates – a controversial class of drugs used in aging horses to tackle problems like chickenpox but also used on young horses to treat conditions such as shin pain – would be prohibited from being administered in what HISA calls “covered horses”.
(It should be noted that a Thoroughbred becomes a “covered horse” only when it completes the first published exercise and official time.)
Joe Miller, a racing manager and blood consultant, said: “The last two weeks I’ve been diving into learning about bisphosphonates and how to navigate these. rely on a lot in Europe when looking for new talent for the United States
Miller added: “I actually skipped attending the OBS March sale because I was so focused on how we were going to move forward in navigating these purchases.
For all sorts of reasons, bisphosphonates pose a host of problems for regulators and riders alike. Once administered, they can stay in the horse’s system for many years. Horses injected with bisphosphonates also do not necessarily test positive for the drug over time, with a positive result more likely during the bone remodeling phase, which releases the drug into the system of the horse. horse.
The punitive consequences for a positive result for bisphosphonate can be enormous. The trainer can face a two-year suspension for a first violation of the bisphosphonate, while the horse can be banned for life.
HIWU published an industry notice on March 10 regarding the use of bisphosphonates in the ADMC program, explaining how the use of only proven bisphosphonates in insured horses after the March 27 implementation date would be considered illegal. is a punishable violation. Furthermore, HIWU explained that it would not pursue disciplinary action for a positive bisphosphonate detection for an insured horse and its associations, as long as those associations are shared. with HIWU documentation – such as medical records or positive test results – demonstrating prior use or presence of bisphosphonates. to the date of implementation of the ADMC program.
“According to HISA requirements for Covered Horses, all medical records, including any relevant test results, must be uploaded to the HISA portal. In addition, due to the variability of bisphosphonate detection through laboratory analysis, all bisphosphonate findings detected in the ADMC Program will be subject to scrutiny regardless of the presumed duration of use. how,” the announcement added.
This still leaves some worrying holes for trainers and owners to potentially slip through.
Buyers are concerned that due to the long lifetime of bisphosphonates in the system, bisphosphonates purchased recently before the ADMC launch date—and unknown to new connections—could still be subject to regulatory hot water. .
Furthermore, buyers like Miller are concerned about buying horses from international jurisdictions where bisphosphonates are still allowed.
“Since private sales are subject to individual contracts, buyers and sellers must formalize the terms of testing for bisphosphonates and the conditions of sale to protect all parties,” writes Scollay. ” Scolay wrote in response to a list of questions.
Miller hasn’t made any international purchases since last October, he said, but he expects that to change in the next few weeks. When Miller again plundered foreign shores, “we could certainly do blood screening for Osphos and Tildren,” he said, pointing to two of the more commonly used bisphosphonates. “I hope we can also test the urine.”
Indeed, urine samples are considered to be more accurate than blood screening in detecting previously used bisphosphonates because urine concentrations of most substances are generally higher than in blood.
Although HIWU has stated that it will conduct a thorough evaluation in the event of a positive result for bisphosphonates, “If you detect a small amount of bisphosphonate in your urine sample after the race, that issue should be resolved. Handling like?” Miller asked. “Can a horse compete while the evaluation is in progress?”
According to HIWU spokeswoman Alexa Ravit, “HIWU will not automatically issue a suspension decision on Insured Horses or Insured Persons upon receipt of a positive result for bisphosphonates.”
Fasig-Tipton is one of the major US sales companies have taken steps in recent years to limit drug use in horses going through their rings, including introducing a bisphosphonate test as a condition of sale to horses younger than four years of age.
If the horse for sale tests positive for bisphosphonates, the buyer has the right, within 24 hours of notification, to cancel the sale. In the case of Fasig-Tipton, testing for bisphosphonates cost $500.
“Like all drug tests that have come out, it’s usually because the market has shifted,” said Bayne Welker, executive vice president of Fasig-Tipton. “That is often what drives us to do these services.”
And the results of the HISA, “I would probably remove the restrictions on race-age horses,” Welker explained, pointing to the semi-trial condition of bisphosphonate.
Indeed, Scollay emphasizes how “buyers should consult with sales companies, if available, to verify available bisphosphonates testing as well as conditions of sale if a purchased horse has a positive outcome.” test positive for bisphosphonates.”
This has led to concerns about the use of other potentially problematic drugs, especially when purchasing horses for training.
Large sales companies have move in recent years to limit the use in equine non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids and bronchodilators, including Clenbuterol. Welker explained that HISA’s new ADMC program will not change the sales test conditions Fasig-Tipton offers for these specific substances.
Perhaps the biggest concern, Scollay explained, would be if the horse had been given a banned substance that could stay in the horse for a long time and show up in testing done under HISA, with Anabolic steroids are considered worrisome along with bisphosphonates.
Scollay recommends that both buyers and sellers refer to “Banned List,” are substances that are not allowed in horses at any time when it is under the jurisdiction of HISA.
According to Miller, none of the drugs listed on HIWU’s banned substance list are of particular concern to him. “I only buy horses from people we trust,” he said.
Furthermore, Miller said he will continue his current work of performing a full blood screening of a horse prior to purchase.
“We usually check for steroids, any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug,” says Miller. “We just want to make sure that when we do a health check on a horse, we want to make sure they’re not giving anything.”
With regard to private testing, however, there is an important distinction for future stakeholders.
HIWU has contracted with six laboratories across the country to conduct its testing program:
Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Analytical Toxicology Laboratory; The Animal Forensic Toxicology Laboratory at the University of Illinois-Chicago; Industrial Laboratory in Denver, Colo.; Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory at the University of California-Davis; Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Equine Research and Toxicology Laboratory; and the University of Kentucky’s Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory.
Trainers and owners may request that HIWU conduct a horse clearance test – for a fee – as long as a history of use for a particular substance is reported. Clearance testing though HIWU will be conducted at these six laboratories.
But by contract, these HIWU-affiliated labs are prohibited from testing any insured racehorses from private customers, explains Jeff Blea, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board. .
And does Blea have broader advice for industry stakeholders looking to end the sale after Monday?
Blea responds: “For any horse purchase as a buyer, you should talk to your veterinarian about what your concerns are and how much risk you accept in relation to testing. drug as a condition of sale.